20 Nov Meet International Advocacy Officer Nikki Brörmann of COC Netherlands
Global LGBTIQ advocates will once again convene this December at OutRight’s annual Advocacy Week in New York City. The ten day event will have advocates amass for trainings and meetings with U.N. representatives to discuss global LGBTIQ issues. This invaluable collaboration between advocates will culminate at OutSummit, the capstone meeting where attendees are invited to discuss unique social and political issues that LGBTIQ people face in a diverse range of nations.
Since 2016, Nikki Brörmann has served at COC Netherlands as the International Advocacy Officer. The scope of Brörmann’s job at COC Netherlands includes liaising with and assisting international partners as they attempt to build stability for LGBTIQ people in their respective countries. In particular, Brörmann is charged with supporting efforts of PRIDE and Bridging the Gaps II campaigns. Here is what Brörmann had to say about building her activist career and causes.
Note: the following questions and responses have been edited for the convenience of readers.
OutRight: What first made you want to advocate for LGBTIQ rights? How did you get involved with your earliest experiences and current organization?
Nikki: As a part of the LGBTIQ community, I have experienced, first hand, the violence and discrimination LGBTIQ people face. I’ve always felt, that from my position of privilege, I was able to voice the injustices facing our community. I wanted to explicitly advocate for the promotion and protection of our human rights.
The opportunity to do so arose when COC Netherlands received a grant to implement the PRIDE program, a partnership with the Dutch government, and a new position as advocacy officer became available. In working for COC Netherlands, I am in the fortunate position to support other activists from countries that face much more difficult situations and conditions than I/we do as Dutch people. So I felt strongly to do what I can to contribute to change in other countries and communities than my own.
OutRight: How have global politics impacted your work?
Nikki: Political developments influence the organizations we can work with, such as Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) organizations being banned through Trump’s global gag rule–or the increased difficulty in supporting organizations in countries that ban foreign funding.
Global politics impact the level of opposition and hostility we face when using human rights mechanisms, such as the United Nations, to advocate for LGBTIQ issues. For example, countries from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) or Africa, that actively resist and try to reverse human rights’ progress for LGBTIQ people, attack the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as a grounds for discrimination. Global politics also decide the alliances we have formed. They impact which organizations we work with on an international level and where we receive funding. Therefore, they bridge or create gaps in addressing LGBTIQ issues on an international, regional and local level.
OutRight: Why is it important to be a part of advocacy week and how will that impact the work that you will do at home and with the COC Netherlands?
Nikki: For COC Netherlands, the United Nations General Assembly and other New York based human rights bodies are an important tool in creating change in the Netherlands and in supporting partner organizations from other countries, as they attempt to create change as well.
I have no experience engaging with the New York based human rights bodies yet, so getting to learn about them during Advocacy Week, and getting to advocate in these spaces, will greatly benefit my work. Attending will both create change in the Netherlands, as well as support other activists in meaningfully engaging with these mechanisms.
Besides attending myself, COC Netherlands supports other activists to participate in Advocacy Week as well, which will greatly increase the impact of our work by enabling them to build these capacities too!
OutRight: What are some local social or political obstacles in the Netherlands you and your organization currently face?
Nikki: Like in many other countries, the Netherlands is facing a shift to more conservative politicians, politics and social norms. Holding the line in terms of funding to continue our work, and to make sure the Netherlands continues to make the rights of LGBTIQ people a priority, is becoming increasingly important and challenging.
We face increasing obstacles in making sure that society remains inclusive of LGBTIQ people in all their diversity. Some of the issues we are fighting for on a national level include maintaining a legal system that identifies discrimination and hate crimes on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, creating better access to affirmative healthcare for trans people, ending harmful medical practices on intersex people, and making sure our laws are consent based and inclusive of all people regardless of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC).